Each quarter, Utne Reader previews a selection of current and upcoming independent film and documentary releases. This sampler was curated by editor Ben Sauder. 


Summer 2017 Film Sampler

SELECT NEW RELEASES

The Penguin Counter

Armed with low-tech gear and high-minded notions that penguin populations hold the key to human survival, Ron Naveen lays bare his 30 year love affair with the world’s most pristine scientific laboratory: Antarctica. The Penguin Counters follows Ron and his ragtag team of field biologists to one of the harshest corners of the planet, where they track the impact of climate change and ocean health by counting penguin populations.

The documentary takes us from the tip of Argentina to the ominous Deception Island on a treacherous yet heartwarming journey by a 21st century Dr. Doolittle who dreams of conserving this stunning but fragile region for future generations. (Distributor synopsis)


Death By Design

Death By Design debunks the notion that electronics is a 'clean' industry by revealing the human and environmental cost of electronic gadgets that are designed to die. From the intensely secretive electronics factories in China, to the high tech innovation labs of Silicon Valley, Death By Design tells a story of environmental degradation, of health tragedies, and the fast-approaching tipping point between consumerism and sustainability. (Distributor synopsis)


 Tomcat

Andreas and Stefan lead a happy and passionate life: together with their beloved tomcat Moses, they live in a beautiful old house in Vienna’s vineyards. They work as a musician and as a scheduler in the same orchestra and they love their large circle of friends. An unexpected and inexplicable outburst of violence suddenly shakes up the relationship and calls everything into question - the blind spot that resides in all of us. (Distributor synopsis)


Denial

Denial follows the story of Dave Hallquist, CEO of a Vermont electric utility, seen through the lens of his filmmaker son Derek, to whom he has granted intimate access for nearly 15 years.

As a self-described “closet environmentalist” Hallquist is dedicated to addressing the way electricity use in America contributes to climate change. But as Hallquist struggles to build the kind of transparent company whose honest approach can get stakeholders to accept the realities of how we generate and deliver electricity, he realizes he must apply that same transparency to his personal life and reveals to his son a lifelong secret. Dave Hallquist, who presents as a chainsaw-wielding, hardhat-wearing CEO in a male-dominated industry is a woman inside. (Distributor synopsis)


 As Good As You

In the midst of mourning the untimely death of her wife, Jo resolves to move forward with their plan to have a baby, and asks her brother-in-law to be her sperm donor. But unexpected dalliances with her two best friends change the equation.

As Good As You is a comedy about trying to grieve the right way...and maybe growing up a bit in the process. (Distributor synopsis)


Art and Heart: The World of Isaiah Sheffer

"His voice was like having warm butterscotch poured over your head," recalls Stephen Colbert. Leonard Nimoy remembers him as "endlessly creative." "I think he bordered on genius," declares Morgan Freeman. Jane Curtin thought "he was so much fun."  "There is no one like him," said Stephen Lang. 

One of New York’s great Renaissance men, Isaiah Sheffer left an indelible mark on music, theater, television, and culture across three decades in the Big Apple. He was the founder and artistic director of Symphony Space, the originator of Bloomsday on Broadway, and the comic genius behind the Thalia Follies. He hosted the popular WNYC program Selected Shorts and earned an Emmy nomination for his Road to the White House series on NBC.

A celebration of his life and work, this warmly affectionate documentary includes archival material, stage performances, and interviews with friends and colleagues. (Distributor synopsis)

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